Bed-tax collections in county hit record last year
By Claudio Mendonça
Tourist-tax receipts in Miami-Dade County, a barometer of health in the hotel industry, rose 13% last year from 2003 to an all-time high as visitors swarmed in and room rates kept rising - a trend that continues.
"Business is booming, both leisure and convention business," said Stuart Blumberg, president of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association. "We are heading to a record year."
In 2004, Miami-Dade collected $67.3 million from all tourist taxes, up from $58 million in 2003. In 2002, after the 9/11 attacks, receipts were $54.4 million.
The county set convention tax records in 2004, collecting $33 million, up from $28.3 million in 2003 and $26 million in 2002. Growth continued in January, as the county grossed $3.1 million, 16.7% more than in January 2004.
"Revenue-wise, I don't know it is the best year ever, but it was certainly the most productive when it comes to collection," said Alan Eagle, county tax collector.
The county levies a 6% hotel occupancy tax. One-third of the revenue from everywhere but Miami Beach goes to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and one-sixth to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority. The remaining half goes into the county's Convention Development Tax fund.
The state separately taxes hotel guests 7%.
In Miami Beach, half of the 6% goes to the county for construction and maintenance of convention centers, arenas and performing-arts centers. The rest goes into city coffers.
"Regardless of where the money comes from, all of the 3% convention tax revenues collected from hotels in Miami-Dade goes to the county for convention center activity," Mr. Eagle said.
Of the $3.1 million January convention tax receipts, Miami Beach hotels provided $1.4 million, Miami hotels $637,077 and Coral Gables hotels $68,300.
"Room rates for hotels have been going up," Mr. Eagle said, "so as a result, revenues have been going up as well."
Food and beverage tax revenues - 2% of hotel and restaurant sales - also are rising. The county got $481,868 in January, up 4.3% from January 2004.